‘I am sorry for the trees be­ing hurt’

Taranaki Daily News - - National News - Caro­line Wil­liams and Bay­ley Moor Stuff

has been sent $1500 and a note con­fess­ing to the poi­son­ing of three po¯hutukawa trees at a north Auck­land beach, af­ter pub­lish­ing a story on the sab­o­tage.

The story was pub­lished on Oc­to­ber 15 and, two weeks later, the re­porter re­ceived an en­ve­lope con­tain­ing a scrap­book with $1500 worth of $50 notes sta­pled to its pages. An anony­mous note in­side said a fam­ily mem­ber was re­spon­si­ble for poi­son­ing the trees.

‘‘When we read your sad news­pa­per [ar­ti­cle], we knew who from our fam­ily [had poi­soned the trees]. We found the tools in our shed. I am sorry for the trees be­ing hurt.’’

The fam­ily gath­ered money to put to­wards the trees’ re­cov­ery. ‘‘We are very sorry this has hap­pened to the nice peo­ple of Arkles Bay. May God bless and help the trees. From our sorry and sad fam­ily.’’

Waitem­ata¯ po­lice Sergeant Steve Perry said a foren­sic anal­y­sis of the scrap­book and cash failed to pro­duce any leads.

Af­ter the po­lice re­leased the $1500 back to Stuff, it was de­cided to put the money to­wards Project Crim­son’s Trees That Count project, which funds tree plant­ing.

Trees That Count com­mu­nity en­gage­ment of­fi­cer Emma Giesen iden­ti­fied Rod­ney lo­cal group Pakiri Com­mu­nity Land­scape Group to re­ceive the fund­ing, as it suc­cess­fully ap­plied for and planted 500 na­tive trees in 2018.

The funds will sup­ply the group with about 150 na­tive trees.

Auck­land Coun­cil’s Agnes Mc­Cor­mack said the two larger po¯hutukawa trees had re­tained some lim­ited live growth, but the smaller of the three trees was not ex­pected to sur­vive.

Mean­while, at least four trees lin­ing the re­serve at Opito Bay, in the Kerik­eri In­let, have had holes drilled into them with poi­son poured into the root sys­tem.

For­mer Far North mayor and lo­cal res­i­dent Yvonne Sharp said it would be very sad to see the na­tive trees turn to skele­tons. Sharp’s grand­fa­ther Ralph Rowsell bought the penin­sula and along with the fam­ily planted the po¯ hutukawa in the early 1970s.

The trees had pro­vided gen­er­a­tions of fam­i­lies with shade and pro­tected the edge of the bank from ero­sion, Sharp said. She wouldn’t spec­u­late on who might have poi­soned the trees or why but said peo­ple were sug­gest­ing the trees might have been poi­soned by those whose view is im­pacted.

Po¯ hutukawa have also been poi­soned at Opito Bay, with a res­i­dent putting up a protest sign.

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